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Spring into Camping Season the Right Way

It’s time to break those trailers out of storage, shake winter dust out of those tents and book reservations.

Maintaining Your Trailer

The first camp excursion of the year can be hit or miss. In the excitement of the first adventure after the retreat of winter, it’s easy to forget the most important supplies. Now it’s time to de-winterize your travel trailer or RV. Most trailers are winterized by running antifreeze throughout the water lines, and now it’s time to get it out. “Leave your unit in the same position it has been during the winter,” says Jeff Mineach, who works in the service department of Guarantee RV, Calgary.

Mineach says you should put water into the fresh water tank, and make sure that the water pump is in line with the tank. “Start with the cold tap closest to the water pump. Open up the tap and run it until it becomes clear.” This clears the antifreeze between the pump and the tap. Once it runs clear, you can go to the next tap in the line, like the shower then toilet, doing the cold side first. “Once you’ve done all the cold taps, locate the hot water heater and start from the closest tap, and work away from that one. Once that is all flushed out and running clear water, open up the bypass to allow water to fill the tank. Now you’re ready for camping,” says Mineach.

How Does Your Trailer Look?

Mineach also has a list of visual inspections he recommends owners do before travelling after winter storage. “I recommend you inspect the roof, and the seals on top of the roof, making sure they haven’t cracked. Do the same for the body and moulding around doors and windows. Make sure there are no cracks or peels.” He also suggests you inspect your tires to see if they have lost any air pressure. Also, take a lug nut wrench and tighten up the nuts on the tires.

Next, “do an exterior light check, all your clearance lights, signal lights, brakes and back-up lights. Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged, check your safety batteries in your fire alarm, CO2 detector, and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) detector,” says Mineach.

If you’re running a motorized unit, Mineach advises to check the fluid levels of your oil and transmission.

For both travel trailers and motor homes, get an LP test. This makes sure there are no leaks in the system. This system runs gas, furnace and the hot water heater.

“Charge your battery before you install it. They will lose charge from sitting around all winter. Water levels in batteries needs to be checked as well,” recommends Mineach.

Finding the Perfect Campsite

So now that your trailer is road-worthy, make sure you know where you want to go, and what you want to do.

Most campsites have their own websites, or are associated with a website, such as Their page breaks everything down for potential visitors. “Things to do in Drumheller” includes the famous attractions of the badlands, golfing, shopping and restaurants, or the “real” badland experience with a tour operator. Once you’ve decided what you would like to do, there is “Where to stay.” This takes you to campgrounds, hotels, bed and breakfast, every way you can stay in the area.

The listings of campgrounds for Drumheller include detailed descriptions of what the sites include, and what they are located near. This is great for a family vacation. Do you want to camp outside the city or closer to the attractions? This website makes it easy to pick your trip just how you like it.

Make sure your campsite has what you need. Can your water tank hold enough water for the time necessary, or do you need to be connected to a water source? Same goes for power. Not all campsites have full plug-ins, and typically these sites are always the first to be booked. Having a generator is a good back-up plan; just remember that they tend to be loud.

When looking into campsites, check to make sure there is access to a dumpsite. When it’s time to go home, it is a timesaver to know where you can dump. Small towns, such as Innisfail, have their own dumpsites located outside of the actual campground.

What’s For Supper?

After a long winter in storage, your camper’s fridge and cupboards are probably empty. Certain things like cereal, sugar, salt and pepper, and other dry ingredients can be stored in the cupboards over the summer.

Nothing beats meal-planning and successful packing of the food. Websites like can help you with meal ideas. Do you want to cook, or stick to cold meals or something that can be cooked over a fire? Sandwiches, hot dogs, cereal are easy meal solutions. The tried-and-true grocery list contains all the ingredients for burgers, steak night and a big breakfast: eggs, sausage, mushrooms, onions all grilled together. A great tool for campers who like to cook is a portable grill that connects to your trailer for power, and is easily stored in a trailer compartment.

Need help planning your first camping trip of the season?

Check out these sites:

Here’s a tried-and-true grocery list for camping with the family:

Ketchup, relish, mustard, mayo, Soya Sauce, BBQ sauce, oil, vinegar
Coffee, creamer, milk, orange juice
Tomatoes, mushrooms, onion (white and purple), potatoes
Salsa, chips, crackers
Bagels and bread
Burgers and buns
Meat to BBQ
Cold meat, tuna or salmon
Dessert, marshmallows
Beverages, including pop and bottled water

When reserving a spot, factor in if your trip is during a holiday long weekend. The most popular sites can be booked up months in advance. At places like Tolman Bridge Provincial campground, all sites are first-come, first-serve. When traveling with kids, this may not be the best route, but for an adventurous couple or group of friends it could be a great option.

The first camping experience of the year shouldn’t be stressful; it should be relaxing and fun. Taking these steps before your departure will ensure that you spend your weekend away doing what you want, and not making up for a lack of planning.

Jesseca is a freelance journalist who writes from the back of her horse. For more information, visit


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